Six alumni recently joined the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association Board of Directors, a 30-member volunteer body that serves the university’s 84,000 living graduates in a leadership role.
The association’s mission is to cultivate positive and lasting relationships between the alumni and the university community, embracing the past, engaging the current and securing the future in support of SUNY Cortland’s educational mission.
The board, in tandem with Alumni Engagement, plans and organizes alumni programs, benefits and engagement activities; and establishes and maintains policies and procedures for the association, while working to build support for SUNY Cortland. The association also owns and manages the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.
New members for 2022:
Peter Kachris ’56
Kachris has spent his long career turning around failing school districts and special schools, first in New York state and later in Missouri.
The former Fulbright Fellow to Okinawa, Japan, and 2017 SUNY Cortland Distinguished Alum now will focus his considerable educational administrative experience to marshal Red Dragon alumni to effectively help current Cortland students bridge the gap to success in life.
“I often say ‘Cortland made me,’” said Kachris, a generous SUNY Cortland supporter who is retired and lives in Maitland, Florida. “I want to give back.”
He earned a master’s degree in history from University at Albany and a doctorate in educational administration from Syracuse University.
“I have good conceptual skills and a broad vision of education’s ability to advance social and economic justice,” he said. “I am a good listener, a critical thinker and a consensus builder.”
After his first attempt at retirement, Kachris was recruited in St. Louis, Mo., for his expertise in fixing that state’s equivalent to New York’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). He later assisted in the orderly shutdown of a private school for the deaf and then helped manage a set of newly created charter schools on an interim basis.
The Special Education Foundation of St. Louis County bestowed its first “Heroes with Heart” award on him in 2002.
Marilyn Stevens-Carter ’79, M ’85
Stevens-Carter of Garnerville, N.Y., joins the board with more than 30 years of experience in college student affairs advising and administration.
She directed academic support services at Manhattan College from 1988 until around 2017, when she began to direct commuter services, including transportation, meal services and emergency housing. Stevens-Carter has been a strong advocate for social justice, equity, access and inclusion. Recently, she has become an administrator and volunteer in the New York City Department of Education’s NY-Edge after-school program.
“I work tirelessly on the behalf of students,” said Stevens-Carter, who joined the alumni board after volunteering with the association for several years through the Alumni Supporting Students Committee.
“A good leader listens to all and tries to reach compromises,” she said. “My joining the board will benefit all.”
While at Cortland, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Science in Reading Education, Stevens-Carter had the opportunity to work for the late Thomas Newkirk during his transformational 21 years as director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at SUNY Cortland.
Stevens-Carter would later earn professional diplomas in guidance and counseling and administration and supervision from Manhattan College.
A volunteer who is concerned with food insecurity on and off campus, she helped launch a food pantry at Manhattan College that features an alert system that notifies students when food is left over from catering events and invites them to pick up a meal.
Jennifer Villany ’94
A respected professional in marketing and engagement, Villany of Woodbridge, N.J., has served as managing director/operations for Omnicom Media Group/New York, N.Y., since March 2021.
Villany — who has earned an Emmy Award Nomination, two silver and three Bronze Lions in entertainment, music, radio and media, two Silver Clio Awards and a Grand Clio — now turns her attention to SUNY Cortland.
“I am very curious and inspired by the idea of how my skills and network related to fundraising, marketing, technology and innovation might support the already active Cortland College Alumni board,” Villany said.
After earning her degree in communication studies at SUNY Cortland, Villany obtained a master’s degree in media studies from the New School for Social Research.
“One of my goals as a board member would be in support of auditing technology and innovation, understanding where the needs are and potentially building programs to drive awareness and education in tech — specifically for women and diverse communities — to lead to career opportunities,” she said.
Balancing career and parenting is a full-time job in and of itself, noted Villany, the mother of two teenage boys.
“I believe the empathy I have for alumni who have done, or are doing, the same is a great asset and one that will bring value to the alumni organization,” she said.
An avid marathon runner, Villany hopes to leverage what she has learned volunteering on behalf of women’s empowerment for the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. She founded Run 4 All Women, a grassroots organization born in the weeks leading up to the Women’s March in 2016.
Daniel Martuscello ’96
Martuscello has served as the second highest ranking individual in the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) since 2017.
He plays a key role in formulating policy guiding the operation of 50 prisons and 38 community supervision offices, and ensuring compliance with all federal, state and local laws.
He acts as the commissioner’s principal advisor in all department matters, provides supervision to seven deputy commissioners and specializes in labor relations and inter-government affairs.
In recent years, he’s earned two top state awards, for his support of professional development and for his leadership in public administration.
Martuscello has supported SUNY Cortland by visiting campus to recruit graduating student for positions in state government associated with DOCCS.
Now Martuscello can use his valuable administrative, fiscal, human resources and diversity and inclusion experience on behalf of his alumni association.
“I would like to continue to grow in my personal life by giving back to SUNY Cortland, to both the student body and the board, and uphold the traditions and stature of the college,” said Martuscello, a former sociology major who lives in Wynantskill, N.Y.
In his 25-year-career with the DOCCS, he played a key role in shaping the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion five-year strategic plan and also served on the steering committee for the Commissioner’s Diversity Management Advisory Council.
“As 50% of our incarcerated population are Black and brown individuals, it is important to recruit a diverse workforce and have an understanding of cultural differences,” Martuscello said.
Donte Hewlett ’07, M ’12
Hewlett, who currently directs concession operations for Levy in Louisville, Kentucky, can’t wait to use those sports world connections to up the game for SUNY Cortland alumni and current and prospective students.
“The Cortland brand travels far and I want to continue that growth,” Hewlett said.
Hewlett, whose current job responsibilities involve extensive dealings with non-profit organizations that receive a cut of concession sales, also serves on Levy’s Work for Change Committee, focusing on diversity with the aim to increase internal promotion of junior level staff of color.
Since the native New Yorker received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sport management, Hewlett’s greatest passion has been mentoring sport management students from various colleges and universities via skype.
“I want to continue to help C-State grow,” Hewlett said. “I want to continue to help students understand the real world post-Cortland.”
Hewlett previously served the alumni association on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and other committees. During the pandemic, Hewlett took part in virtual meetings to hear current students talk about their challenging year.
“The best way to advance diversity and inclusion is basically to listen and understand you are never done with advancing the issue,” Hewlett said. “Active alumni engagement is important because again we need to help show the students the way. In the real world nowadays, it truly is all about who you know.”
Therno Diallo ’16
As an African American Muslim male, raised by immigrant parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., Diallo brings a diverse perspective that allows him to connect with a broad range of constituents. As a board member, that ability could help him strengthen the connections of a very diverse Red Dragon Nation with SUNY Cortland.
“I want to be around folks who genuinely love Cortland as much as I do,” Diallo said.
Diallo, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, brings plenty of high-level collegiate administrative experience to the new board role as a key administrator at Rutgers. He fulfilled a similar title at DePauw University in Indiana and at two other employers during a rapid career advance.
He also has an M.S. in athletic administration from Canisius College.
“Whether it’s problem solving, brainstorming or personnel matters, I have been able to acquire those experiences by volunteering and getting involved,” the former sport management major said.
Diallo has already served the Alumni Association on the Alum From Day One Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. He’s reached out to students as a “30-minute mentor,” and volunteered as a speaker on Sport Management Alumni panels and Black History Month panels, and on the Sport Management Advisory Board.
The former Red Dragon football player also served his team as an assistant coach during 2015 when the team earned the Empire 8 Championship and was awarded Coaching Staff of the Year after going 6-2 in conference play.
“He was the ‘ideal teammate’ who embodied our central traits of caring, commitment and trust,” wrote his former SUNY Cortland football coach and fellow Cortland alum, Daniel MacNeill ’79, in a letter supporting Diallo’s nomination to the board. “He continues serving our football program as mentor, his major on its advisory board and the alumni association.”
For questions regarding recruitment or how you can be part of the Alumni Association, please email Alumni Engagement at email@example.com.